Journalist Gary Younge has an interesting article in today's Guardian Unlimited on addressing the problem of certain kinds of identity-based fundamentalisms. It's entitled "To fight these reactionaries we must tackle the crisis that they feed off." It's a brief, provocative piece that touches on a number of related topics, and perhaps because of its brevity, some of his characterizations of issues strike me as too neat or simplistic. But it's worth checking out. As with so many Web articles, the comment section includes very interesting responses, as well as a link to former CIA officer (and Bin Laden bureau chief) Michael Scheuer's review of Robert Pape's book on suicide bombers and critique of current US policy on this subject. (Another reading of Pape's book, from Commondreams.org, is available here.)
I knew a few years ago that it would only be a matter of time before things got to this point. (Can I ask, isn't the term for the language "Arabic," and for the ethnicity "Arab"?) In any case, because several presumably non-Arab, non-South Asian British passengers on a Málaga-Manchester flight overheard two brown-skinned men speaking what they "thought" was "Arabic" and saw them checking their watches, the flight was delayed, and two Britons of South Asian ancestry ended up being removed from the plane and put through a security detail, while the flight proceeded on to Manchester. Think it was just a bit of edginess based on the recent massive "terror bust" by Britain's and Pakistan's intelligence services? Think again: recent days have also seen this incident, and this one. Yep, false positives on liquids the young woman of Pakistani ancestry was carrying, and in the latter case, a passenger who "appeared to be drunk" misinterpreted a Muslim saying his evening prayers and...oh well. All terror, all the time, and don't let something sounding like "Arabic" come out of your mouth if you're swarthy and decide you also want to pray or check your watch. What's next, shoot first (cf. Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes) and then apologize to whoever's still alive in the cabin later?
Black Gay ads coming to NYC streets
Campaign for Black Gay Men's Lives, a project of the New York State Black Gay Network, is set to launch a series of ads, I Am Gay (Wearepartofyou.org), across New York City tomorrow. They'll appear in the subways, as well as at two strategic billboards in Harlem, with the aim of transforming public notions of who Black gay men and what we look like, with the ulterior aim of raising awareness and consciousness around HIV/AIDS transmission. Notables who'll be at the launch include Mark Jason McLaurin, Executive Director of the Network, Congressman Charles Rangel, and Anti-Violence Project Director Clarence Patton. Keith notes that a similar project in Philadelphia, which took a much more aggressive and admonitory stance, met with some criticism from Black gay members of the community there. I find this project really exciting and applaud approaches of this sort that enhance and expand the visibility of Black LGBT people. I hope they'll open some eyes, and I also look forward to the day when lesbians and transgenders are included in similar campaigns, and when LGBT people of color are represented without hesitation both in Black and the broader media.
Osama and Whitney, Sitting in a...Cave?
This bit of news is so ridiculous I bet the Onion's writers wish they'd come up with it. (Maybe they did....) According entertainment writer Daniel Melia, one of Osama bin Laden's main preoccupations is: Whitney Houston. According to his former "sex slave," the self-described "half-African, half-Black-American" author and gadfly Kola Boof, bin Laden thought Houston was "the most beautiful woman" he'd ever seen, and wanted to convert her to Islam. He had a mansion waiting for his obsession in Khartoum. Supposedly bin Laden blames Bobby Brown and American culture for "brainwashing" her, and even talked about killing Bobby, though a few episodes of Being Bobby Brown would surely set him straight (or conversely quadruple his rage.) And to top things off, according to Boof, bin Laden was so smitten he was willing to "break" his color "rule" to marry her. (How magnanimous of his racist, paternalist ass.) All of this strikes me as yet another attempt by Ms. Boof to gain attention (isn't that what far too many people foisting themselves on the public crave these days), but I have to admit, it got my attention. Perhaps the people hunting for bin Laden (if they actually are still doing that) will take some pointers and adapt accordingly....
On the boardwalk, in front of the Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City